Kyiv sees Putin’s abduction of children as part of a genocidal attempt to wipe out its culture and identity, reported POLITICO.
KYIV — Last week’s international arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin over the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia has made it impossible for Kyiv to accept Russia’s president as a potential interlocutor for any peace deal to end the war.
The International Criminal Court issued its warrant on Friday. The crime of children being forcibly taken to Russia is especially sensitive as Ukrainian and Western lawyers identify the deportations as falling within the legal definition of genocide, as part of an attempt to wipe out Ukrainian cultural identity.
Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the Ukrainian president’s office head and representative of Ukrainian negotiations group in Istanbul, promptly tweeted that identifying Putin as “an obvious international criminal directly means there will be no negotiations with the current Russian elite.”
Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov also told POLITICO it would be hard to imagine how peace talks could now be conducted with someone under an international arrest warrant. When asked about the same issue, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said it had been clear even before the ICC warrant that it would be impossible for Putin to be counterpart on the other side of the negotiating table.
Danilov argued Putin should have been put on trial for shooting down the Malaysian airliner MH17 in 2014.
“It’s 2023 and this motherfucker still bears no responsibility. Now we have to talk to him after he killed 500 of our own children? What is the world we live in?”
The Kremlin claims it is open for negotiations but makes it clear that it will only talk if Ukraine gives up territories illegally occupied by Russia. Ukraine says it will start talking only after Russia completely withdraws from Ukrainian territory.
“We knew long before the ICC arrest warrant that talking to Putin made no sense. Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council adopted a legal resolution on September 30 of last year declaring that any negotiations with Vladimir Putin were impossible in response to Russia’s attempted annexation of additional Ukrainian territories,” Foreign Minister Kuleba told POLITICO.
At the same time, Kuleba said Ukraine does not reject the idea of negotiations outright. However, he cautioned against any idea that talking to Putin personally could ensure peace.
“It’s not that we didn’t try. Ukraine has made numerous attempts to reach a peaceful resolution. Ukraine had held 88 rounds of negotiations under the mediation of France and Germany since [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy’s election as president in 2019 until February 24th, 2022. Russia trampled on all of these efforts and instead chose a barbaric, genocidal war of aggression,” the minister added.
The last attempt at direct negotiations with Russia was in Istanbul in July 2022. Since then, negotiations are proceeding under the mediation of the U.N.
Ukraine attempted to find common ground even after February 24, but without success, Kuleba said. “Instead, Russia escalated its brutal attacks and announced plans to annex additional Ukrainian territories. President Zelenskyy made it clear that if Putin goes ahead with this annexation attempt, it will be impossible to talk to him,” Kuleba said.
“Putin has ignored everything; all he wants is more war, more Ukrainian children stolen, more Ukrainians murdered, and more Ukrainian land was taken. How does one deal with such evil? One crushes it by force.”
Ukraine has its own vision for peace, as outlined in Zelenskyy’s 10-point Peace Formula he presented last November during a G20 Summit.
The Ukrainian proposals included nuclear safety, food security, the release of all prisoners of war, the withdrawal of all Russian troops, and the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity. “We urge all nations to focus on implementing the formula as a realistic path to peace rather than on wishful thinking about ending the war by asking the aggressor to do so,” Kuleba said.
However, the Russian government, which does not recognize the ICC, has made it clear it sees Ukrainian proposals as “unreasonable.”
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova stated that “annulment of all sanctions and international lawsuits” are the grounds for negotiations. Furthermore “the new territorial realities should be internationally recognized.”